Category: “Newspaper-Columns”

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

I drive into the port of Philadelphia and before me, towering above the other ships along a wharf lined with freighters, is the elegant prow of the SS United States. This is the unlikely home of what was once the most magnificent steamship in the world and the ultimate symbol of traveling in grand style. The United States made 400 trans-Atlantic crossings, carrying tens of thousands of passengers to Europe and back, including Hollywood stars and kings and queens. But, unlike the ill-fated Titanic, almost nobody remembers the United States except those who traveled on it. Yet it was more luxurious, better, bigger than any other ship — so big that if you put the Chrysler building flat on its deck, you could walk around it.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Blue lives and our lives

The Princeton Echo

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Euless, Texas. March, 2016. Police receive a 911 call. “Shots Fired” in a park near a school. Immediately the school is locked down and police rush to the park. Officer David Hofer hears the call and decides to back up his buddies. He is first to get to the park. Waiting for him is a shooter, who has hidden himself with a supply of loaded weapons. David spots the man and directs him to show his hands. Instead, the deranged man shoots David in the head. Moments later the other officers shoot the man, a drug addict. But it is too late. Only 29, David Hofer is dead. He never drew his pistol.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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The Gospel of Wealth

The Princeton Echo
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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

Carnegie Hall, the Carnegie Corporaion, the Carnegie Hero Fund, the Peace Palace in e Hague, Carnegie Mellon University, Carnegie libraries, and I can go on and on. Andrew Carnegie left his mark everywhere. Even in Princeton, where he left Lake Carnegie for the crew team. “We needed bread,” Woodrow Wilson told Carnegie at the time, “and you gave us cake.” 

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Where Holden Caulfield came from

Princeton Echo

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

I have come to see a manuscript at the Princeton University Library. But asking to see this particular manuscript is like asking to see the Ark of the Covenant. I need to make a prior appointment, produce two photo IDs, register for a special library card and sign a sheaf of legal disclaimers. I will not handle, copy, reproduce, photograph — and most especially, will not quote directly. 

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Einstein’s Piano

The Princeton Echo

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Illustration by Eliane Gerrits

This fall marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Amid all the celebrations and conferences about one of the greatest intellectual feats of the human mind, it is easy to forget about the real person who actually did it. But if you live in Princeton, and his piano is in your living room, he is always present. 

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Secrets of the Lone Eagle

The Princeton Echo

It’s a fine autumn day, as crisp as an apple. Dry leaves scuttle across the road as I drive out of Princeton. A half-hour later I am in the hills of the Sourland Mountains. A mist hangs over the fields; suddenly a rainstorm erupts. Then I see, in the middle of the road, a young woman standing in a pink bikini top and running shorts, her face turned up into the falling rain. I jerk the wheel just in time to avoid her.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Rolling on

The Princeton Echo

It is Sept. 11, 2015 as I write this. On a sunny, late summer afternoon, I sit in the bleachers at Princeton High School, waiting for the first soccer game of the season to start. This morning, my son shoved his clean jersey with No. 16 into his bag, put on a clean shirt with a tie, and went to school. On the day of every home game, he and his teammates wear ties to class, a sign of team pride.

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There are two Presbyterian churches in Princeton, a stone’s throw from each other. In a neoclassical temple on Nassau Street, the prosperous, mostly white middle-class parishioners gather to worship every Sunday. Down the hill on Witherspoon Street a more diverse group comes together to pray to the same god.

Posted in: Newspaper Columns
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Saving Charlotte: A Mother and the Power of Intuition
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